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The Importance of Marketing in KSA’s Thriving Startup Ecosystem

The start-up ecosystem in KSA is thriving and growing rapidly. In 2021 alone, $152 million was invested in local tech startups across the nation. This figure showed a 55% increase from the previous year, and it doesn't look like the trend is slowing down. As part of the National Transformation Program, the government is providing incentives to young citizens who want to set up new businesses and encouraging venture capitalists to increase investment in the region.

In the same year, venture capital in Saudi Arabia increased by an impressive 270%, equating to just over SAR 2 billion. But, according to a report by Arabnet, Saudi Arabia was also home to the highest number of "dead startups" in the MENA region between 2013 and 2018.

There are many causes of startup failure, but an ineffective marketing strategy is often a significant factor. To survive in the competitive startup arena, founders need to ensure they approach their branding and marketing with the same level of care and dedication as they do their product or service. Good marketing can quickly mean the difference between success and failure, especially for early-stage startups.

Why is Marketing So Essential for Startups?

As the startup industry booms, KSA is quickly repositioning itself on the global ladder of innovation. Aiming to become the new Silicon Valley of the Middle East, investments are flooding in. But to increase the chances of long-term success, effective marketing is a key requirement in the fiercely competitive startup arena.

Marketing is one of the highest ROI tools as a startup. The old mindset was that if you just deliver a great product or service to the market, your business will succeed. In today’s world, this simply won’t do. Saudis are online more than ever before. With the move to digital commerce during COVID-19, startups that lack a digital marketing strategy will not be able to reach their customers at a rate which companies that do can.

Marketing is also essential in any business because it helps to build an audience while fostering relationships with current and potential customers. In a crowded market, you need a marketing strategy that increases visibility and awareness in the process of boosting brand value. It shouldn’t just be an afterthought it needs to be factored into the planning phase of your business from day one. With well-planned, creative campaigns that shed your vision, mission, products, and services in the best light to boot, startups can better connect with target audiences and facilitate growth.

Marketing Also Attracts the Right Talent

In the first quarter of 2021, Saudi employment rates dropped to 11.7%. A few months later in September of the same year, unemployment figures were at their lowest in over a decade.

While this is excellent news for the nation’s economy and emerging youth workforce, it also means that in line with global trends, startups now have to compete in a more competitive job market. To compound the issue, KSA is experiencing a skills gap over 65% of businesses surveyed by City & Guilds Group reported they were struggling to find and retain employees with the right technical skills.

Effective branding and marketing are just as much about attracting the right talent as they are about attracting the right customers. By building a strong brand presence, startups can simultaneously establish a platform that attracts top-tier talent with pre-existing insight into what the company does and why it matters. This alignment of brand and employee values through effective marketing, creates a force that can propel a startup to extraordinary heights.

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